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Aping around – Helmsley shop owner to travel to Indonesia to help the orangutans

A Helmsley businesswoman is fundraising for her second trip to an orangutan rehabilitation centre on the other side of the world.

Lynn Hempsall, who owns Helmsley Traditional Sweet Shop, spent a month at the rehabilitation centre in Ketapang, Borneo, run by International Animal Rescue, in June 2015. During her time there she became more aware of the plight of the orangutans and the problems associated with palm oil plantations, and she saw three very sick baby orangutans, Budi, Jemii and Gito. Over the last four years she has worked tirelessly to create awareness of the animals’ plight by giving talks to groups and in schools, as well as altering the shop’s and her personal purchasing with an aim to remove as much palm oil as possible.

Lynn has now signed up to another trip to Indonesia with Orangutan Veterinary Aid in November 2019, who are taking out medical equipment and sponsoring veterinary orangutan training. The aim of the trip is to raise £30,000 to purchase a digital x-ray machine for the vets at Ketapang which will allow them to treat the injured and rescued orangutans quicker and with less stress on the animal.

To help towards raising the money, Lynn is holding monthly cake sales, with the next one taking place on 31st May. Shoppers will be able to buy cakes and biscuits outside the Helmsley Traditional Sweet Shop from 12noon – 4pm. Lynn has also created a special selfie frame, which people can pay £1 to use and then share on social media, with all proceeds going towards the charity. In addition, there are several cuddly orangutans which people will be invited to guess the name of. At £1 a go, the winning name wins the teddy.

The Ketapang rehabilitation centre Lynn visited in 2015 is now closed to volunteers due to the risk of passing on infections to the rescue babies but she will be able to visit as a guest as part of this year’s trip. The trip also involves a visit to the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation centre in central Borneo which is where the BBC’s Orangutan Diaries and Channel 4’s Orangutan Jungle School are both filmed. In addition, there is a trek and an overnight stay in the jungle near to where orangutans have been released back into the wild.

As well as her trips to Indonesia, Lynn has also visited Uganda three times to volunteer at school and mountain gorillas conservation projects.

Lynn said: “I have kept in touch and help with fundraising and support for volunteers’ trips to Indonesia through the charity Orangutan Veterinary Aid. But I never expected to go back as the centre had closed to volunteers – and, being honest, I struggled with the long flights, jet lag and the most awful mosquito bites! But when they approached me, I couldn’t say no. It’s such a worthwhile cause – and I’m also really keen to see how Budi, Gito and Jemii are doing. As it should be with all trips that involve wild animals there will be no hands on activities with the animals. But I’m hoping I may also finally get to see an orangutan in the wild which is the one thing I haven’t yet done, although I saw mountain gorillas and chimpanzees on my visits to Uganda.

“Any donations people or businesses make, big or small, will make a huge difference to the work the charity does to save these precious animals. I’d love to take my selfie frame to some big companies, events and attractions, so if any would be happy for me to come along, I’d love to hear from them! I think awareness is rising of the terrible things we’re doing to the homes of the orangutans but there’s still much to be done. We can all do our bit in lots of different ways, from donating money to making an adjustment to our purchasing and making sure we recycle and reuse where we can.”

Donations, which will go to Orangutan Veterinary Aid, can be made through the website: www.justgiving.com/fundraising/lynn-hempsall 

Lynn’s cake sales are taking place at the Helmsley Traditional Sweet Shop on 31st May, 5th July, 1st August, 31st August and 19th October.

For more information on the plight of the orangutans and how you can help, visit:

OVAID – www.ovaid.org

International Animal Rescue – www.internationalanimalrescue.org/protecttheforest

BOSF – www.orangutan.or.id